Binge & Purge

Oh man you guys, I finished my draft. Holy shit. Hot damn. It’s done. It’s absolute trash, but it’s done. (I’m kidding, I really love some parts. Just the last 1/3 or so kinda went to shit because I was so tired of writing it I just wanted the suffering to end)

The process of writing this draft has made me realize that I operate in a series of binges and purges. Intakes and outputs.

Since the end of April, I’ve been writing this draft. So for two months, I’ve been purging. I’ve been on “output” mode. I’ve read one book in that time. I haven’t watched any TV or played any video games, I’ve watched maybe three movies, and I’ve been listening to the same handful of bands on loop until I hate them. I’ve purchased SO MANY BOOKS in the past two months, but I haven’t read a word of them. I’ve been getting anxious because I want to do other things, but I just couldn’t stop writing. Some people might advise “take a break and do some of the other things!” but if I did other things, I would be anxious because I wasn’t writing.

It’s a vicious cycle.

When I wrote the last word of this draft, I sat staring at it for a minute, thinking, “Well… I’m not happy with this ending, but this is the ending. I have no further ideas for this draft. I have written all of the ideas. I guess… that’s it. It’s done.”

It’s like stumbling out of a desert into a lush field of wildflowers. I’M DONE. I’M FREE! SO MANY OPTIONS FOR HOW TO SPEND MY TIME! SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES! SO MANY THINGS TO TRY. I CAN FINALLY RELAX!

So I will now roll around in the wildflowers for a while. It’s binge time. I will read some books. I will watch some movies. Maybe I’ll finally finish Yuri on Ice. I will load my brain up with SO MUCH STUFF after draining it clean of ideas with the single-minded focus I’ve had on my current WIP. I need to refresh my brain. I need to intake. I will devour all the media. All the ideas I can access. I will do new research. I will spend time outside.

I have declared on Twitter that I will take two weeks off from writing. That’s hilarious and untrue, but I will take at least two weeks off from this particular draft. I have a short story that needs to be revised and sent out to publishers. I had people beta read it for me a month ago and haven’t read their feedback yet because I didn’t want to split my focus off my novel draft. I have another short story that needs to be revised and sent to betas. I still have my NaNoWriMo novel from last year waiting to be revised.

But I am taking time off. I need to regroup. Maybe I won’t take two weeks off, but I’ve accumulated a seriously large number of books I need to read, so I’ll be starting on those. Plus there are a few authors I’ve befriended online and I’d like to read every book they’ve ever written. Plus I have things to beta.

How do you guys split up your “intake” vs. your “output” when it comes to writing? Do you intake and output a bit every day? Every week? Or are you a crazy person like me and you split intake/output periods over months? Leave me a comment!

Trust Your Broccoli

If you are a writer and you’ve never read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, GO DO IT NOW. I read that book in college and it literally changed my life. I’ll wait.

2000 years later

All right, so there’s a chapter in Bird by Bird called Broccoli. In it, Lamott cites a quote from a Mel Brooks skit: “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.

What does this mean? Well, in the context of writing, it means “Listen to your story, and your story will tell you how to write it.” In other words, listen to your intuition. Listen to your gut. Writing is a very heart-and-soul driven process, and if you try to over-think it, analyze it, make it a science, it’s not going to work.

That’s the gist of the piece, but I highly recommend you read it for yourself. That one and “Shitty First Drafts.”  “Shitty First Drafts” is the reason I finished my first novel instead of letting it waste away half-finished somewhere on my hard drive.

ANYWAY.

I had my own “listen to your broccoli” moment this past week which kind of blew my mind. I’ve written before about how music ties into my writing process. For my current WIP, I’d been listening to Saul’s music — dark, sultry, heavy on piano and violin and angst. I was writing from Saul’s point of view, so listening to his music made sense.

I hit a turning point in the story and I started slowing down. I was getting stuck. I slogged through it with help from a friend, and then I got stuck again. My brain suddenly decided that I MUST LISTEN TO FOLK MUSIC. Folk music? Okay, I thought, this is Alex’s music. He’s a small rural town kinda guy, bluegrass and folk and country-esque music is prevalent there. So, we’re listening to Alex’s music now, like the flip of a switch. Saul’s is absolutely not acceptable anymore. Alex was reaching a turning point in his character arc, so that made sense I guess.

But I was still stuck. For days. I was fighting my way through, feeling that the writing was slow and boring. I couldn’t figure out how to make it interesting. I kept thinking, “It’s really hard to show this from Saul’s point of view.” and “I have no idea where this is going.”

And one night I just hit a wall. I couldn’t write. Nothing. It wasn’t happening. I didn’t know what was supposed to happen next. I had ideas in mind, but none of it seemed right. The pacing was off if I executed the vague plotline I had in mind. It just didn’t work. I was so, so stuck.

Of course, I took to Twitter, because Twitter is my people.

I had a bit of conversation, and then an epiphany.

And something tumbled loose in my brain, like there’d been a rock stuck in the gears and that idea knocked it loose, and I starting thinking “Yeah… this might work. This would solve a lot of problems. This would solve so many problems. THIS WOULD SOLVE LIKE ALL THE PROBLEMS.”

And the gears started turning again. Slowly. It takes a little while for the machinery to go from total standstill to functional again. I went to sleep that night with a thought. The gears clearly kept turning while I slept, because the next day, I woke up with ideas. I tossed them out on Twitter so I wouldn’t forget, and then I kept simmering on it during the first half of my work day. On my lunch break I sat down with a notebook, and the flood gates opened. The clouds parted and sunlight broke through. I put pen to paper and the entire ending of the book spilled out over my brain with drunken enthusiasm. The pieces clicked together easily and logically.

Here’s where I get to the point. Remember up there where I said my brain randomly decided that Saul’s music wasn’t working anymore and it was time to start listening to Alex’s music?

DAYS before I got stuck, DAYS before I thought of switching POVs, my broccoli knew.

It knew.

broccoli

Writing is hard. There’s all kinds of advice out there. Not all of it will work for you. Maybe your broccoli is a lying little shit… but I doubt it. Your broccoli is your heart, your muse, your innermost self. Trust yourself. When you’re writing and things get rough, try to get quiet. Tell the doubts to shut the fuck up. Ain’t no one got time for doubts and fears. Cuss and swear and scream and throw things if that helps, and then get quiet. Sit. Focus. Stop trying to force words, and listen. Somewhere in the back of your mind, there’s a little green sprout saying “Do this thing. This is the thing to do. Trust me.”

Trust the broccoli.

(if you hate broccoli, feel free to think of that little voice as something else. Muse. Subconscious. Tiny person standing in your brain cavity shouting at you. Whatever form it takes, let it exist and listen to it.)

 

“Write What You Know”

There’s loads of writing advice batted at writers, packaged down into short, easy absolutes: Show don’t tell. Don’t use adverbs. Write drunk, edit sober. Never use semicolons. Don’t use “very.” And, of course, “write what you know.”

Let me tell you something about these hackneyed tidbits of “advice”: they are often misinterpreted. I believe the most common interpretation of “write what you know” is  “write about your own life”. That can be very discouraging, because the average person does not lead a novel-worthy life–if I went with this interpretation, I would write about cats, dogs, gardening, writing, and libraries.

A more accurate tidbit of advice would be “use what you know” or “start with what you know.” No where in that four-word writing quip does it say “write ONLY what you know.”

Here’s the thing: You know a lot more than you think you do. You know pain, you know loss, you know anger, joy, happiness, confusion, stress. You know friendship and family, you know hunger and thirst, you know what it’s like to want something you cannot acquire.

That’s your base. Emotion is vital for any story. Maybe you’ve never had to watch your entire village get slaughtered or decide to let one person die to save twenty, but you have experienced strong emotions. Use those.

And here’s another fantastic thing about “what you know”: you can actively decide to change what you know. If you don’t know about something, find out. Do Your Goddamn Research.

but its hard

Yes, there is such a thing as “creative liberty” and “author’s prerogative.” These are especially pertinent in scifi and fantasy. When you start engaging magic and setting things 500 years in the future on another planet, creative liberty and author’s prerogative become all the more powerful.

BUT

You have to have truth and fact and reality at the core before you can take liberties. There has to be a seed of relatable knowledge there to help you create the beautiful sprout of a novel you plan to write. Your characters should express true, believable emotions.

There’s a highly pertinent quote I’ve seen credited to Pablo Picasso: “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” This applies to “write what you know” as well. Learn the facts like an expert so you can bend them for your novel.

But you have to start with what you know and be realistic. You have to start with that basis of truth, that honest emotion or basic fact. If you are writing something completely outside your realm of experience, sprinkle in pieces of what you know to lend a feeling of authenticity to your story–for example, I spent four years in college, so if I include a college campus as a setting, or a college professor as a character, I have plenty of knowledge I can use. Maybe the college campus is actually a huge summoning circle for the forces of evil, or the college professor is an alien. I don’t know anything about that from experience–but I do know the basics of dorm life, campus events, student attire, the kinds of conversation you might overhear on a campus, etc, and I can use that basis as a springboard for the rest of my idea to give it an authentic feel despite being about something utterly outside my realm of experience.

If you write an MC who has been raped or abused, who is instantly cured by falling in love with someone, you clearly have not put yourself in this MC’s position and bothered to lay down that foundation of truth, the kernel of realism from which your fiction can grow.

If you write a scifi novel and I read it and think, “Okay, this person has clearly never watched or read ANY scifi in their goddamn life,” then you’re doing something wrong.

No one expects you to become an expert on thermonuclear astrophysics overnight, but you should be doing research. You should have a list of resources you’ve consulted that you can go back to if you feel uncertain at any point. You should feel knowledgeable enough that if someone came to you and said, “Can you give me the basics on this topic?” you could spout off some knowledge and point them in the direction of some articles that you found helpful.

A writer’s job is to take threads of reality and weave them into something interesting, exciting, and entertaining. What you know–through research and experience–gives you the thread you need for your beautiful tapestry, but thread alone can’t make art. If you only “write what you know,” you’re basically just taking all those threads and hanging them up to flap in the breeze. Everyone will look at them and say “Huh, yeah, that’s thread all right.” If you don’t “write what you know” at all, you’re basically trying to weave a tapestry out of pure imagination. Everyone will look at your tapestry and go, “…oh. It’s uh… Very… uh, not really real.”

You have to use imagination AND thread to make a tapestry. What you know and what you don’t. “Write what you know” is good advice, as long as you know how to interpret it.

tapestries

For some other perspectives on this misunderstood piece of writing advice, check out The Most Misunderstood Piece of Good Advice Ever and Write What You Know – Helpful Advice or Idle Cliche?

What do you guys think? Is this much-repeated advice actually any good? What other frequently-uttered writing advice do you think we’re all interpreting wrong?

Saying vs. Doing, or, the Art of Psychologically Manipulating Yourself

How are those new year’s resolutions going? I hope you’re all clinging to yours like gum to the underside of a chair. (Ew, gross analogy, sorry)

Now that it’s nearly April, I assume most people who waxed poetic about “new year, new me” have long since fallen off the bandwagon and are back to their old habits. I, however, am 98% on track with my goals for this year so far. No one knows it but me, because I refuse to announce my goals and resolutions.

Why is that, you say? Why do you hate new year’s resolutions? Why don’t you tell anyone what yours are?

I don’t hate new year’s resolutions, I just can’t keep them if I announce them to anyone. If I tell anyone my goals, I won’t accomplish them. It’s a basic tenet of my personality. It’s actually a basic tenet of human nature. There have been numerous studies done on the topic. One study notes: “Other people’s taking notice of one’s identity-relevant intentions apparently engenders a premature sense of completeness regarding the identity goal.” (PDF here)
In English: Y’all tell people you’re gonna do something, and suddenly you feel like you’ve already accomplished your goal because other people know about it.
And then you don’t do it. Because you already feel accomplished.

As writers, we can’t afford to make this mistake. Writing is hard enough without human nature interfering with our goals.

Being a productive writer requires a stupid amount of discipline, and discipline requires self-awareness. You have to reflect on your own habits and behaviors. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and hold yourself accountable. No one else is going to, and if you claim that telling 172 people on Facebook that you intend to write a novel will help you write a novel, that’s just a lie you tell yourself to justify the feeling of false accomplishment described above. Aunt Sally on Facebook will not help you achieve your goals. Aunt Sally probably never even achieved her own goals. Don’t rely on Aunt Sally to keep you going on your writing. You are the only one who can do that.

Basically, being a writer requires you to be psychologically manipulative… to yourself.

You have to pay attention to yourself. Figure out how your own mind works – know what motivates and depresses your creativity, what time you’re most productive and under what circumstances, what you have to tell yourself in order to get results, what music helps and what doesn’t, know how other people can affect your productivity and adjust your interactions accordingly.

To me it’s almost a game.

You have to trick yourself, psychologically condition yourself like Pavlov and his dogs – ring a bell and the writer puts 100 words on the page! Tell yourself that if you don’t write every single day, the sky will fall, an army of vicious aliens will invade the planet, the sun will go supernova. Whatever works for you. But you have to figure it out. You have to pay attention to your own psychology. And talking about how much writing you’re going to accomplish does not help you accomplish it.

Here are a few things I’ve found that work for me:

  1. Self-talk. When I find myself dilly-dallying, especially out of some sense of anxiety (starting a new story, starting edits, avoiding a difficult-to-write scene), I have a little chat with myself – sometimes out loud, sometimes not. My self-talk is, erm, more along the lines of drill sergeant than encouraging momma. I have to be harsh with myself or I’ll take advantage of my own lenience. (i.e., “LISTEN, YOU STUPID BITCH. WRITE YOUR FUCKING STORY OR YOU WILL DROWN IN SELF-LOATHING, AND YOU WILL BE MISERABLE.” “ugh okay, you’re right, self”)
  2. Plan/Schedule. If you work a regular dayshift job, it’s easy to fall into a kind of slump in the evenings. You work all day, get home, you’re tired, you just kinda… meh, do whatever, watch TV or something. I tell myself every day, “I have to write tonight.” Or if you have something to do after work, “All right, I should be home around 9, I’ll write for half an hour and then watch an episode of whatever and then go to bed.” Work it into your daily schedule. It doesn’t have to be a huge time sink. If you write one sentence, you’re doing better than if you write nothing. But make it part of your daily schedule. If you want to take it seriously, treat it with as much responsibility as you do your actual paying day job.
  3. Frequent Small Goals + Reward System. Dangling a proverbial carrot in front of my own face does tend to work. I typically reward myself with food and breaks. I set small, daily goals in addition to my overall goals. That’s a tactic I learned from running for fun – when you think you can’t do it, pick a small landmark, a tree or pole or pot hole, and say, “I just need to get to that.” Once you get to that, pick a new one. Before you know it, you’ve run 3 miles. In a writing context, your overall goal may be to write a novel, but setting a small, achievable goal such as 500 words a day, or thirty minutes of writing, can help keep the sense of accomplishment alive so you don’t get discouraged. I like to set goals with rewards such as, “If I finish my short story tonight, I will make brownies tomorrow.” or “If I finish my novel draft by Friday, I will marathon the Lord of the Rings movies on Saturday.”

I will put a caveat here: As writers/bloggers/artists who maintain our own social media presence, sometimes we have to talk about our plans. You have to have content for your feeds, you have to keep your audience interested and updated on what you’re doing. I still advise you not to talk about what you’re going to do, but rather what you are doing and what you have done. Mentioning your future plans is okay occasionally as long as you still have actual content to share just as often (or more often).

Here are a few articles with interesting tips to trick your mind into being more productive and better focused. They are kind of generalized or intended for office work, but it can easily be applied to writing as well: Six Lazy Ways to Trick Your Brain into Being Productive, 5 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Being Productive When You’re Just Not Feeling It, and How to Trick Yourself Into Doing Tasks You Dread.

For more specific writing-related motivation, Camp NaNoWriMo starts this Saturday, April 1! Camp NaNoWriMo is kind of like normal NaNoWriMo, except that you can set your own goal, and you get to join a “cabin” of up to 19 other writers who will help encourage each other. If you’re not sure if you should participate, 1) yes you should, 2) maybe my blog post about NaNoWriMo will convince you.

Do you guys have any tips or tricks you use to keep yourself on task?

Nothing Wrong with Writing Romance

I am one of those oddities who actually got a degree in creative writing, because I followed the advice of “go to school for something you love” and not worry about making money. Happiness is more important than dollars. Here’s the thing: One of the biggest impacts my CW program had on me was to instill a deep-seated insecurity about my chosen writing genre(s). I didn’t really realize it at the time, but now, years after graduation, it has dawned on me that while teaching me some important lessons, it was also subconsciously cutting me down. The entire fiction program was focused on getting us into grad school, and Grad Schools Don’t Want Genre Fiction. They Want To Know You Can Write Real, Literary Fiction.

So I spent three years not writing scifi, not writing fantasy, and not writing romance.

Don’t ask me what the hell I did write, because I honestly don’t remember. I wrote specifically to get a grade, and tossed the pieces to the side as soon as I could. When people asked me what I liked to write, I would reluctantly admit scifi/fantasy. I never admitted I wrote romance, let alone gay romance. Writing romance is like, ugh, bottom of the barrel in skill-level, as far as my creative writing program was concerned. Anyone can write romance.

Right?

Right?

WRONG.

Fuck that!

Do you know how much bad romance I’ve encountered? And I don’t mean the kind with weird outfits.

bad-romance-2
The more I watch this gif, the more I wonder if these ladies were really meant to be flailing around so haphazardly.

I never wanted to go to grad school for writing. That was never in my end goal. The entire program was devoted to teaching me how to do something I never planned to do, and in its pursuit of preparing me for a goal I did not want to achieve, it taught me that the things that I did want to do Weren’t Good Enough.

Ugh, no, no, no. I graduated from that program in 2012. It has taken me five years to get over that and embrace who I am and what I write. It took me finding the m/m romance genre–specifically starting with Josh Lanyon, and realizing that holy shit, there are authors who write this, exclusively this, extensively this. And write it well. Josh Lanyon uses some really great figurative language, beautiful descriptions, strong dialogue, realistic emotion–all that kind of shit my creative writing program encouraged me to write as “literary fiction.” There it is, all those Good Things… in a book featuring gay romance as a major element of the plot.

Well hot damn.

And look! There are all these other authors that do the same thing! I found Aleksandr Voinov next–gay scifi romance?! Oh my god. THIS. IS. A. THING. I. CAN. DO! THIS IS A REAL THING! THIS EXISTS. PEOPLE DO THIS. PEOPLE DO WHAT I WANT TO DO. AND THEY HAVE FANS.

Count me in!

There is absolutely nothing shameful in writing romance. I’m still getting over that preconception. I don’t go gallivanting around talking about my writing in real life, because that’s annoying, but I do mention it in passing (given the fact that I spend 98% of my free time doing it, it’s hard for me to hold a conversation without mentioning it). To my great relief, no one really ever asks what I write. But if/when they do, I always hesitate before admitting to romance. Based on blog posts I’ve read off and on over the past few months, I’m not the only one who is afraid of some kind of stigma surrounding the title of “romance writer.”

But I noticed this weird thing when I did start admitting it: No one fucking cares.

No one judges me for it. No one thinks I am any less of a skilled writer than if I was trying to write a modern To Kill a Mockingbird or Great Gatsby. In fact, the average person is probably more interested in romance than “literary fiction.” People read romance. People identify with romance. Most people read for fun and entertainment, not to get some kind of deep message ingrained into their souls. There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing specifically and exclusively for entertainment. As it would turn out, only people who teach creative writing to college students are going to think that my chosen genre of writing in any way reflects on my skills as a writer overall.

This year I’m all about self-love and embracing who I am. As it just so happens, I’m a lady who writes gay romance, and the only thing you can judge me by is the quality of my writing.

Which isn’t published anywhere yet.

So good luck judging me.

(If you really want to judge me, I suppose you can go based off my blog. Bring it on. I’ll fight you.)

I’m curious about your experiences with talking about your writing. Do your friends and family know what you write? Do you feel like there’s a stigma around the romance genre?

 

Falling on the A-Spec

This past week (Feb 19-25) was Aromantic Spectrum Awareness Week. Before last week I did not know there was such a thing as a arospec awareness week, but there it was. Twitter seemed to lump aro in with asexual for a sort of aro/ace spec awareness week, and as most of the people I follow are in some way associated with the LGBTQIA community, I saw a large number of posts flooding my Twitter feed related to this topic.

As such, before I even got out of bed on the morning of Sunday, February 19, I had encountered something alarming/exciting. Lying in bed browsing Twitter, I happened across a thread wherein a person described what being aromantic/asexual means to her.

And holy shit.

It was me.

It was exactly how I’ve felt for years.

Dear God, can’t I even get out of bed before having life-altering self-revelations on a Sunday morning?!

This post is gonna get a bit personal, but hey, what else is new? I’ve been spilling my guts here every week for months. I believe in a policy of openness, because there are countless things in the world that many people experience, but few people talk about. I have found great solace from those few people willing to talk about these things, so I’m going to be one, in hopes that my gut-spilling and openness can help someone else someday.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

I must admit, I spent most of Sunday, uh, “in a state,” as they say (“they” here being people in the 1800s). I’ve never thought of myself as asexual or aromantic, but then, I never really knew what ace/aro was. I knew what it meant, but I never knew what it feels like. It’s easy to regurgitate a dictionary definition: “Aromantic – a person who experiences little or no romantic attraction.” Well… I’m married, so at some point I was romantically attracted to someone, so I’m not aromantic… Right? “Asexuality – a lack of sexual feelings or desire.” Well, I have sex, I enjoy sex, so I’m not asexual. Right?

…Right?

Turns out no, not really.

Ace/aro identity is a very nuanced thing. I’m vaguely afraid to write anything about it here, because I literally just learned about most of it a week ago and it’s all still very uncertain, so I’m not willing to make my own statements about it as a whole. I’m just going to express how I feel, and compare it to what I’ve read about how other people–people identifying as ace/aro–feel.

I’ve always just considered myself as having a low sex drive. I can go weeks without sex and not even notice. In fact, I usually do go weeks without sex. I have to make a pointed effort to remember to occasionally have sex with my husband, because it doesn’t matter to me either way if we do or don’t. I’ve been with the same guy for nearly ten years, though, so that’s natural, right? All those jokes about married couples never having sex, hardy har har, that’s all it is, right? He’s the only guy I’ve ever had a relationship with–I never did any dating or sleeping around or playing the field or any of that nonsense in high school or college. I never really had the opportunity… but, in retrospect, I also never really had the desire. One-night stands, casual sex, the mere idea of all that kind of horrified me. But I also have anxiety and hate to deal with strangers, so that’s probably all that is, right? I like to look at shirtless guys. I get ridiculous crushes on celebrities and silly crushes on random people I see on the bus or in the hall at work. I have sex with my husband and I enjoy it. I’m not devoid of sexual attraction… so I’m not asexual. Right?  (I’m not trying to give the impression I’m in denial or that I don’t want to be ace/aro, I just don’t want to wrongfully claim a label)

Then I read this post, and Rachel Sharp’s explanation was exactly how I’ve felt all my life. How I still feel. She wrote: “I do feel romantic attraction. I do get crushes (a lot). But for me, a crush isn’t about sex. It’s a cuddle-crush. I want someone I like to like me back and be affectionate. If sex is involved, okay, that can be fun. But so are roller coasters, and swimming in the ocean, and playing video games together. I feel approximately the same emotional investment and drive for all of these activities.

surprised-scared

THAT’S ME!

THAT. IS. ME.

I get crushes on random people and I want to talk to them about life, or books, or movies, or dogs! I want to go for walks, or plant a garden! I don’t care if we so much as kiss. I have no desire to “jump their bones” or “do naughty things to them,” even if I find them super physically appealing. I’ve always felt it odd that people talk about fantasizing about sex with celebrities or so on. Sure, they’re hot, but I don’t think about having sex with them. When I get crushes on people, I literally just want to talk to them. Even with my husband, I am just as content with cuddling or sitting on the couch together as I am with sex (maybe even more so).

So hey, it seems I fall on the a-spectrum somewhere.Who knew?!

I’m not willing to affix a label to myself yet. There are a lot of labels (ace, aro, gray-aro, demisexual, etc) and I find it very intimidating to try to put myself under one heading. There’s also a degree of feeling like an intruder–I’m headed towards my 30’s. Can I just suddenly affix a new label to my sexuality at this point? I’ve been unwilling to refer to myself as “straight” for years, but the question of what I should call myself has never really come up. It hasn’t really mattered. I’m married to a man and our relationship works regardless of what I call myself. For now, I feel like it’s enough to say I fall on the a-spec somewhere. And it’s kind of nice to realize that I don’t have some medical condition or that my lack of sex drive is not related to my husband or my marriage in any way. This is how I’ve felt all my life and there’s a word for it! There’s a community!

I’m not a weirdo! (at least not in this respect)

Woohoo!

Everything in Moderation

Moderation is not my strong suit. I’ll put that out there right off the bat. I am either all-in on something–be it a band, a book, a food, a video game–or I am 1000% disinterested. I have basically stopped watching all TV over the past year or so because I refuse to let myself get sucked into a weeks-long multi-season binge and I apparently cannot portion-control myself.

how-my-brain-works
Never has a more relevant comic existed

My inability to do things in moderation is a blessing and a curse. It makes me be super productive! I set goals and I go at them hard and fast (hehehe). I don’t let myself get distracted. I am single-minded on my goal until it is achieved.

…or until I burn out.

You know how, the faster you’re going in a car, the harder it is to control the vehicle in the event of an unexpected ice patch or pothole or deer or bad driver? So if you go fast and boom, suddenly a deer!, things aren’t going to end well.

I’m like that with my goals. I fly at them with blinders on, determined to meet them in an efficient and timely manner. In order to meet them, I ignore ALL OTHER THINGS. I want to finish every goal as soon as possible so I can move onto the next one. If I start reading a book, I will binge that book until it’s done–days off, evenings, lunch breaks at work, I am reading. If I start revising a draft or writing a new story, all reading is forgotten. My husband won’t see me for weeks except in passing. “Hi, I’m home. Okay I’m going upstairs to write.”

When this is how you operate, sometimes all it takes is a little bump from Life and suddenly you’re spiraling into deep space, trajectory lost, instruments non-responsive, no idea how to find your path again. Should you be reading? Writing? Revising? Binge watching every season of every series of Star Trek to ever air? YOU JUST DON’T KNOW. So you drift, aimless, not particularly passionate about any of your goals. That’s where I am now.

And oooooh buddy, it sucks.

Life just gave me a little tap–okay, a couple little taps in quick succession over the course of a week–and now I am floating in oblivion without road signs or any sense of direction. Just drifting in space. I have lost interest in the goal I was working towards, but I am loathe to set it aside and start on something else.

And yet… they say “everything in moderation.” So perhaps I need to learn that working towards and single goal and neglecting all else is, perhaps, not a good idea? Not healthy? Perhaps, maybe, I should be okay with working a bit more slowly on multiple goals at once, so that this burn-out doesn’t happen…? MAYBE I should let myself have a few hours of mindless, non-goal-related entertainment every once in a while? IT’S OKAY TO RELAX, LEIGH.

I’m not sure about all that, but for now I think I must set aside the goal I fizzled out on and work towards a different one. I have plenty of goals. I just need to pick one and take off…

How do you guys manage your goals? Do you believe in “everything in moderation” or are you a “burn twice as bright for half as long” kind of person?